Breast implant surgery is an effective and common plastic surgery procedure to increase the size and improve the shape of your breasts. While breast implant surgery is a popular way of augmenting and enhancing your breasts, the debate about the linkage between breast implants and cancer has popped up lately. It all started when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a likely connection between breast implants and a rare form of cancer called of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).
ALCL is basically a cancer of the immune system. Whether the breast implants really cause ALCL is yet to be thoroughly investigated. As of now, only a possible association between the two has been unearthed. More studies are required to find convincing evidence about breast implant and cancer.
What is ALCL and how is it linked to breast implants?
ALCL is an atypical type of cancer that has the tendency to cultivate in an area of the human body. The lymph nodes and the skin are particularly vulnerable to developing this type of cancer. This cancer develops in the immune system cells instead of the breast itself.
According to the FDA, there is a potential association between ALCL and breast implants. It made the findings of its research available that states that ALCL is mostly found in close proximately of breast implants – within the nearby scar tissue but not the breast itself.
The study investigated cases of ALCL in the US from 1996 to 2015. The research found that 2 out of one million patients with textured breast implants are likely to suffer from ALCL. The textured breast implants have been specifically singled out because it is believed they are responsible for the likelihood of cancer in women who undergo breast augmentation.
Additional studies are needed
Even though the study indicated there is a strong connection between textured breast implants and ALCL, it noted that the risk of developing ALCL due to textured breast implants is extremely low. The FDA also remarked that this revelation does not mean that breast implants are responsible for causing ALCL. The agency said additional studies are required to find the actual linkage between breast implants and ALCL.
What type of breast implants (silicone or saline) may cause ALCL is also to be determined. However, the revelation of a linkage between breast implants and cancer is still disturbing. Every year, millions of women undergo breast implant surgery to enhance the aesthetics of their breasts. As such, it is crucial to monitor the possible risks.
Shall you change your treatment plan?
The findings of this study are not final, and it does not mean you should abandon your consideration of breast implant surgery. Nor does it mean you should have your breast implants removed if you already have them. Patients should bear in mind that the risk of ALCL is very rare and the successful treatment rate of this rare form of cancer is greater. According to one study, about 90 percent of patients with this type of cancer have been successfully cured.
Is ALCL breast cancer?
Many people mistakenly think that ALCL is a breast cancer. The fact is that ALCL is not breast cancer but a form of lymphoma or a cancer of the immune system. Basically, this cancer develops in the cells of the immune system located in the vicinity of the breast implant.
According to the FDA, 350 cases of breast implant-induced ALCL were reported to the agency. Nine of the patients who contracted the ALCL after breast implant surgery died of cancer. There is an unending debate going on about how breast implants might cause ALCL. Some studies indicate that severe inflammation, which is known to be a forerunner of several types of cancer, might trigger the development of ALCL after breast implant surgery.
Some researchers have also suggested that the immune reaction to the placement of a foreign object inside the body might be responsible for the development of ALCL. Moreover, some experts think the bacteria that settle in the region around the implant might prompt the immune system to respond, thus causing cancer.
In 2016, a research was conducted to study the accumulation of bacteria around the cancer site in patients suffering from breast implant-induced ALCL. The results indicated that the type of bacteria in those patients was found to be drastically distinct from the one found in people with breast implants who did not get cancer.
The question as to why people with textured breast implants are at greater risk of developing ALCL is yet to be answered. However, one study indicated that the human body responds relatively differently to textured breast implants. In light of this, patients are advised to always discuss with their plastic surgeons as to what type of implant is best for them.
If you don’t want to take even a minor risk with breast implants, go for smooth implants rather than textured ones. Moreover, if you already have textured implants, you should frequently see your plastic surgeon to monitor your health.
In case you feel pain, notice physical changes, or experience swelling or other changes in or your breasts, be sure to contact your doctor and discuss with him whether it is a symptom of ALCL. Fortunately, removing the implant and the tissue around the implant cures most cases of this type of cancer.
Lets know more about Breast Cancer and Implants
The association between breast implants and cancer is one of the most debated topics in plastic surgery right now. It all started when the FDA found a possible linkage between a rare type of cancer of the immune system called ALCL and breast implants.
The association between the two has yet to be investigated; however, the risk of this type of cancer is rare. Patients who get textured breast implants might get this type of cancer. If you are considering undergoing breast implant surgery, be sure to discuss the risk of ALCL with your surgeon and avoid textured implants if you want to avoid the risk of cancer completely.